palm oil trees in row in shadow

MEPs call for EU measures to tackle palm oil deforestation

New EU measures to tackle palm-oil related deforestation are needed, the European Parliament says.

The Parliament adopted the Environment Committee’s non-binding Report on Palm Oil and Deforestation of Rainforests by a large majority, calling for new measures to tackle deforestation linked to palm oil.

The report highlights the EU’s prominent role in the palm oil trade as the second largest global importer.

ClientEarth forests lawyer Diane de Rouvre said: “It is very encouraging to see the Parliament recognize both the huge impact of agricultural expansion and palm oil production in driving deforestation as well as the EU’s role and responsibility in addressing this problem.”

The report lists a number of measures those involved in the palm oil trade should take to resolve the problems linked to the unsustainable production and consumption of palm oil.

It calls on the Commission to develop an EU action plan on deforestation and forest degradation. According to the Parliament, such a plan needs to include concrete regulatory measures to ensure that supply chains and financial transactions linked to the EU do not result in deforestation.

MEPs suggest that future legislation could follow the model of the EU Timber Regulation, the EU’s law to address illegal logging.

The report stresses that new EU policies for the palm oil sector should tackle governance issues in producing countries and engage all stakeholders in discussions, saying it is important to “work with third countries to develop and implement national laws and to respect customary community land rights.”

ClientEarth welcomes the Parliament’s report and hopes it will encourage binding EU action to halt the negative impact of forest conversion on local communities, biodiversity and climate change. Such action would complement existing work under the FLEGT Action Plan.

This action should contain a binding EU law instrument to tackle EU imports and focus on illegal forest conversion, reinforcing legal frameworks governing forest conversion and land-use change in producing countries.

It should also look beyond palm oil at the other main agricultural commodities driving deforestation, such as soy, beef, leather and cocoa.

The European Commission plans to publish a study, which has been expected for some time, by mid-year on the feasibility of an EU action plan on deforestation and forest degradation.

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Mike Gifford